As mentioned yesterday, Texas baseball dropped the final game of its series with Kansas after winning the first two. All three games were hotly contested (Saturday and Sunday were far closer than the final scores would indicate).
Today Texas beat a feisty UTSA squad 16-5. Riley Boening started the game for the Horns and pitched beautifully for 4.2 innings before running into trouble. Old timers Keith Shinnaberry and Hunter Harris kept the Horns up while UTSA threatened, and the Horns put things away with 11 runs in the final three innings. It was such a nice night for the Horns that even Kyle Walker got some action (it did not go well).
As for the last four games, here is what we're thinking:
- Where have you gone, Kyle Russell? Russell has the lowest batting average of any Longhorn starter (.255), 1 HR and 7 RBI. The lanky junior leads the team in strikeouts and was replaced in right field Monday night by Preston Clark. But is he really pressing? Russell is in a virtual tie for first place in OBP (.480), which is even more impressive considering he isn't hitting the ball worth a darn.
- Where have you gone, Texas starting pitching? Kenn Kasparek went 4.2 innings on Saturday, which was longer than Friday and Sunday starters Austin Wood and Casey Whitmer went combined. Augie seems determined not to push any starter very hard in the early goings of the season. With the condensed schedule being as tough as it is we can't really complain. Which brings us to...
- Where have you gone, lack of bullpen depth? We count six relievers that could play a huge role come June, and it seems like they're all youngsters. Maybe Texas has had more talented relief pitchers in the past, but we can't remember when. It's insanely early but we feel very comfortable with freshmen Stayton Thomas and Chance Ruffin --17 combined appearances, 3 earned runs-- taking the mound. Speaking of which, Ruffin has been suspended 4 games for not tipping his hat or something like that.
- Where have you gone, Preston Clark? Cameron Rupp has gone from keeping the seat warm for Preston at catcher until he got healthy to possibly replacing him altogether. Clark played the entire KU series in left field and Monday was seen in right field. It wouldn't bother us too much because 1) it takes some of the strain off Clark's health, 2) it gives Texas insane depth at left field, 3) he plays the outfield pretty well, and 4) Clark is hitting the ball alright (4-5, 4 runs, 5 RBI on Monday night).
To sum up the lessons of the last four, this team remains an enigma, with especially large question marks remaining at starting pitching and defense. The defense has improved but is still not to the level needed to win a championship. Our questions about this team's lack of power have been answered even without Kyle Russell's potential power being realized. People are going to have to be patient with this team and know that we may not see its best baseball until late in the season.
Next Up: The Horns have another midweek matchup Tuesday, this time against Texas State in Austin (6:05 PM). The Horns then travel to Lubbock to face Texas Tech (9-8, 1-2 Big XII) on Thursday through Saturday. As with any conference series, we'll be happy taking two of three. That having been said, a sweep would give a huge boost for the Horns' hopes for a conference crown.